NC considers COVID-19 vaccine incentive program for kids


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina may introduce an incentive program to get more children vaccinated.

North Carolina would not be the first. In Chicago, New York City, and Louisiana, children as young as 5 years old can receive a $100 gift card for getting vaccinated. Ohio is raffling off 150 scholarships worth $10,000 and five scholarships worth $100,000 for young children.

As part of its COVID-19 vaccine campaign, the state introduced the $25 Summer Card pilot program. Under the program, anyone getting vaccinated or driving someone to be vaccinated at participating locations was given a $25 gift card.

A study by the North Carolina Department of Human Services, North Carolina Central University, and UNC-Chapel Hill found the incentive worked. The state said in the four counties the program operated, vaccinations decreased 26 percent in clinics offering the gift cards and 51 percent in places not offering the incentive. During the same period, the state said vaccinations dropped 49 percent statewide.

“We are looking at ways to replicate that,” NCDHHS Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said on Wednesday.

Cohen did not detail strategies the state may incorporate or what kinds of providers may be part of the program.

Dr. Charlene Wong, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families with NCDHHS, co-wrote the study on the Summer Cash program. She said incentives from the previous incentives slowed the decline in vaccinations by half.

“I think one incentive is not going to work for everyone. One strategy is not going to work for everyone. It’s really about putting them all together,” Wong said.

While the state had a goal of vaccinating at least 70 percent of adults, Cohen did not outline a specific goal for children. She said she doesn’t know what the right number is at this point.

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